Introducing Ola Scooters: For Rs 85k to 1.6 lakh, no test drive, bad battery, customer nightmare

The Ola Electric Scooter launched with a bang. Now, the Ola Electric Twitter replies section is flooded with complaints.

 |  8-minute read |   22-04-2022
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Cab-hailing service Ola launched Ola Electric Scooters with a bang last year. CEO Bhavish Aggarwal on September 15, 2021, said that they were selling 2 scooters every second as the floodgates to sales opened. These scooters cost anywhere from Rs 85,000 to Rs 1.6 lakh.

Fast forward a few months, Aggarwal is still basking in the sunshine of the sale success, dancing to Bijli Bijli by Hardy Sandhu, while updating the world about their new tests on the Ola Electric Scooter.

But on the other hand, people who bought the Ola Electric scooter are enjoying the splendid experience of:

  • The battery going from 40% charge to 0% in 5 minutes;
  • Dragging the locked and unmoving vehicle in 40 degrees Celcius across the road;
  • About to buy petrol to set the scooter on fire after having to deal with an incommunicado customer service and;
  • In one case, allegedly breaking both arms in an accident.

One look at Ola Electric’s ‘tweets and replies’ section gives an overview of what’s really happening with the Ola Electric Scooters.

Of course, then there is that one case of an Ola Electric Scooter battery going up in flames in Pune, like several other EV scooters. Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari also responded to the incidents involving EVs. He said strict action will be taken against companies found to be negligent.  

DailyO spoke to two people who complained about their Ola Electric scooter experience. Perhaps the most daunting and serious experience of all is that of Reetam Singh from Guwahati, Assam.

  • GUWAHATI ACCIDENT

Reetam Singh’s father Balwant Singh booked an Ola S1 Pro electric scooter in September last year for about Rs 1.6 lakh during the sales frenzy. The Singhs received it in March 2022.  

What happened? On March 26, 2022, Reetam Singh was riding his brand new Ola Electric scooter. He reached a speed breaker when he applied the brake, but according to Singh, instead of decelerating, the vehicle accelerated leading to the accident.

“The engine sent so much force to the back tyre, that the scooter went airborne, fell on the road and skidded,” he described the accident.

Singh suffered fractures to his left hand and 16 stitches to his right hand. He had to be hospitalised and undergo surgery to ensure the accident didn’t lead to long-term problems. In fact, Singh says he flew from Guwahati to Mumbai to be treated by renowned Dr Sudhir Warrier. He also estimated his overall medical expenses to be over Rs 4 lakh including the to and fro from Mumbai and Guwahati.

The accusation: Reetam Singh’s father Balwant Singh tweeted about the whole incident in detail, frustrated with the poor response from Ola regarding their issues. They claimed that the accident was due to a fault in the regenerative braking system in the scooter.

What did Ola Electric do? Ola towed away the scooter on April 11, 2022, and has since made some minor repairs to it, according to Reetam Singh. However, they told Singh that their investigation did not find anything wrong with the scooter. BUT Singh says when he asked for an invoice of the repairs and documental proof of the investigation, Ola refused to share the details with him. 

Ola's response to the accusations: Ola Electric claims that Reetam Singh was ‘overspeeding’, and during the accident, he applied three brakes – the front brake, the rear brake and the regenerative brake – in ‘panic’, which led to the accident. They refuted his accusations that there was anything wrong with the vehicle. Ola Electric also tracks the details of their customers rising to their cloud and released the data from the time and date of Singh’s accident.

Rebuttal by Reetam Singh: “Spike in section 3 proves my case. I didn't apply the brakes at the point they claim. It was before that. If I was a reckless driver, I would have had accident before. You can clearly see the difference in sections. Ola is trying to character assassinate me as a reckless driver,” Reetam Singh told DailyO. 

What the Singh family wants from Ola Electric: Reetam Singh and his family want Ola Electric to pay for the medical expenses they suffered due to what they say is the fault in the scooter. 

We also sent a detailed questionnaire to Ola Electric, but are yet to receive a response.

Reetam Singh says that his life was saved because he was wearing a helmet. This he wanted to emphasize that the helmet he was wearing was that of a third party and not the one from Ola Electric. He claimed that even the helmet was of poor standard and he’s thankful that he wore a better helmet on March 26.

  • THE BATTLE WITH BATTERY 

In Vasai, Maharashtra, Lilian Dcunha spent around Rs 87,000 on her Ola Electric scooter. However, within a few days, she started experiencing multiple problems with her brand new scooter.

What happened? Lilian's husband took the scooter out when the screen showed 54 km capacity, but after going less than half a kilometer, the scooter’s charge went to 0% and it came to a halt in the middle of the road.

Now, the even messier part that Lilian explained to DailyO is that when the battery dies down, everything else about the scooter also locks down, meaning the handles get locked, the storage beneath the seat is locked. So, it is a bigger task than normal to move the scooter.

“My office bag was in the trunk and it won’t open if the scooter isn’t switched on,” she said.

They then had to bring the charger from home, arrange a charging point, and charge the scooter to take it back.

Dealing with the customer service: Lilian has been trying to contact the customer service for one month but has received no response. That's why with the help of her colleague Bhumish, she took to Twitter to complain.  

4-647_042222032601.jpgLilian's Ola Electric Scooter.

“I lodged a complaint on the website, and also called the customer service. Every day I called, but they made me wait 15 minutes every time, then the line would say it is busy. The call never got through. Finally, I received some complaint number, but that’s it nothing else,” Lilian narrated her ordeal trying to reach the customer service.

Lilian also says that when the scooter was delivered, the mirror on one side was wobbly and so was the number plate.  

The battery problem is not only limited to Lilian’s case, Twitter complaints are evidence of that. Even Reetam Singh from Guwahati said that he faced battery issues and the vehicle getting locked. 

No test drive: One more thing that Lilian found very peculiar was that the company offered no test drive. She booked the scooter, and after many delays received it. Have you ever bought a vehicle without a test drive? Reetam Singh too says he never got the option of a test drive. And of course, there is no return policy like any other vehicle. 

6-647_042222062303.jpgOla Electric booking website.

Lilian says when she ordered the scooter, she went with the hype of Ola and "joined the revolution". Now, she says she regrets buying the Ola Electric scooter and wishes she could return it.

DailyO reached out to Ola Electric, but are yet to receive an official response from them. It seems, like the customer service, it will take me a few days to get through to them.

Writer

Amrutha Pagad Amrutha Pagad @amrutha_pagad

Amrutha loves writing on Humour, Politics, Environment and Gender. She is a Senior Sub editor at DailyO.

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